You’re visiting the official webpage of Special Task Air Group One (STAG-1).  Officially organized in the summer of 1943 as part of the U.S. Navy’s Special Air Task Force (SATFOR),  STAG-1 made an extraordinary contribution to military history by conducting the first-ever combat strikes by drone aircraft.

Today, the news headlines are filled with the stories about the capabilities of weapons like the Predator and the Reaper.  Few people know it, but the first weapon of this kind was developed and used in combat by the U.S. Navy during WWII.  Known as the TDR-1 “Torpedo Drone”, it was one of the most advanced weapons of its day, and one of the war’s biggest secrets.  Equipped with a first-generation TV camera and radio remote controls, TDR-1s were capable of making highly-accurate attacks.  Since they could be flown remotely by pilots aboard chase aircraft, they could strike the enemy at will without risking American lives.

In September and October of 1944, STAG-1 deployed to the South Pacific and made a series of attacks on Japanese emplacements in the Solomon Islands.  46 drones were expended in combat conditions with nearly 50% of the strikes judged to be a success, and no American lives lost.  Yet despite this achievement, in late October of 1944 the STAG-1 group was deactivated and development of the TDR drones terminated.  The sudden end to the program dealt a stunning blow to its proponents, who strongly believed that drones could save thousands of American lives in the on-going fight against Japan, and would eventually change the conduct of war itself.

Established by the surviving veterans of the STAG-1 group, this website is intended to educate the public about one of WWII’s forgotten stories, and to preserve the memory of the pioneers whose dedication to service, and belief in the concept of stand-off weaponry, helped make today’s drones a reality.

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13 Responses to Welcome!

  1. Ned Fernandez says:

    As a grandson of a STAG-1 Pilot – Thank you for keeping his memory alive through this website!

    • hallie says:

      You’re welcome, Ned! My grandfather is Norm Tengstrom and I’m so pleased to be able to keep this site up for them. Best wishes, Hallie

  2. Ken Hopkins (Hoppy) says:

    I was a Proud Member of Stag -1 from the time it was organized until it was Terminated. Ken Hopkins AEM 1C .

  3. Tom Gillespie says:

    ny hours watching and adjusting equipment during test flights with Beechcraft SNB’s.

  4. Teddi (Hamilton) Lillback says:

    I just found this website after many searches on the internet. My father was stationed with this group. His name was Ted Hamilton, but he was nicknamed Peewee while in the service.

    Many thanks for this site!

  5. Walter Daniel (Danny) Dietrich says:

    My father Walter C. Dietrich was a an aviation radioman in Stage-1, his first assignment after radio and gunnery school. He was in the unit from 1943 until disbanded around 1945.
    In 1971-75, I was assigned as a C-130 pilot to fly DC-130s in the 11th Tactical Drone Squadron, DMAFB, AZ. This unit did a lot of testing of drones with chaff pods and cameras for reconnaissance. We even did testing of TV guided drones, BGM-34A/B, with a Mavrick missile on the drone’s wing.

    My dad was very proud of serving in Stage-1, and always looked forward to the reunions until his passing. Thanks Hallie for keeping the site going.

  6. jeanne says:

    My father recently passed, Richard N. Stine, 89 y.0., from West Palm Beach, Florida.
    He started flying when he was 16 years old and went on to work for ATT, which brought about skills useful for the Stag- One mission.
    If anyone has any information regarding either knowing my father or his work on this project I would very much like to know about it.
    Thank you.

  7. Bart Immings says:

    I was very pleased to see there are still members of STAG-1 around. My wife’s uncle, Larry Geiger, was assigned to the Avionics Section of that unit. Larry and I were very close friends and I spent a great deal of time with him before he passed away. I will be attending a memorial service for Larry on June 21st. We plan to spread the ashes of Larry and his lovely wife, Eve on the waters of Bodega Bay as they requested. If any of his old Navy buddies have anything for me to pass on at that service, or would like to attend, please contact me at immi444@gmail.com and I will coordinate with his daughter who is planning the service.
    Kind regards,
    Bart Immings Sr., USMC (retired)

  8. Thomas Gillespie says:

    Was in the forming of Stag One in Clinton, Ok and was with it until decommissioned. Was on the island of Banika. Was ART first class . In the radio altimeter part. Was fortunate to get back to the USA and reassigned to CASU 54 in Fallon, Nevada.

  9. Dave Bowen says:

    Just before his death, my dad told me that the name of his squadron was STAG-1. He never talked much about the war, we knew that he had flown the TBM Avenger. After his death I looked up the history of the unit and was dumbfounded – they had TV in drones in 1943 ??!!. The unit’s history tied perfectly with the few tales Dad told of his war years, the training in Clinton, OK (where, 65 years later, I would land my Navy T-28 on a cross-country refueling stop), the carrier training in Traverse City, Michigan and the Pacific deployment. This is an amazing story and needs to be remembered. It is now apparent that the Navy is taking the drone concept a bit more seriously !

  10. Dorothy Groat Lococo says:

    My father, Tom Groat, was a member of Stag 1 in the South Pacific during WWII. Ken, did you know him?

  11. Don says:

    I recently found part of a crate that was used to ship a td3r-1 to Traverse City.

  12. Gearge W. Bruehl says:

    I just learned about this web site. I am still alive and have fond memories. I am now 95 years of age.